Most underrated band of the last five years or in the last 10? Akron's own. You might know them because the drummer from The Black Keys is in the band and he released the album on his own. Fucking awesome.
There is a lack of pretension in Akron and that is what makes it unique. Somehow, this rust belt town has a generation of kids who are fine with experimenting and throwing things against the wall to see what sticks. My brother and friends in Akron are every weekend going to see some sort of different type of band play. They are going to bars, to house shows, to abandoned buildings to see these bands perform. Every time I go home, and I have an opportunity to check out these bands, I'm amazed by the sense of community there. There are bands taking the building blocks left over from bands from yester-year, stacking them on top of each other, adding their own elements, and seeing what happens. There aren't indie rock bands, or metal bands, or pop bands in Akron. There only seem to be Akron bands in Akron.
There is a sense of urgency in the sounds coming out of Akron. It sounds something like this: things need to change, we might not know what things need to change into, but we can't let the status-quo continue. If the world isn't going to change then F-that we are going to do it ourselves. There is a sense of don't tell us what we should or should not do, we can figure it out ourselves. This is important, this is how things progress, this is what progress looks like. Only when you know you are free to do what ever you want are you free to become different.
This is what makes Akron different from Columbus. Too many times I have sat through shows here in Columbus only to walk out the door thinking, why did exactly nothing just happen? Why does that band sound like every other band in Columbus? What is this clear lack of urgency in the Columbus music scene? Can't these bands see that the world is kind of fucked up and the last thing we need is another indie rock band doing their best twee act?
I'm not saying that every band in Akron is doing this. I'm also not saying that there aren't any bands doing this in Columbus, because I'm sure there are. I'm just saying when I compare these two cities and the music coming out of them, the music coming out of Akron is much more adventurous. They are taking risks, they are morphing into new sounds. Of course it doesn't work every time, nor should it. It simply matters that the risks are being taken.